SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

In January, 2011, this writer published a four-part article in Countercurrents and elsewhere entitled, "The War: Did We Sacrifice A Million Lives And A $Trillion Cash Just To Hand Our Jobs To China?"  It was long (around 40 pages), and I must admit a little confusing, because the information was so stunning that I had a difficult time understanding what I was reading. The gist of the article was that Big Oil had asked Congress in 1998 to remove the Taliban so as to allow the building of a pipeline that would let Mideastern oil go to "the right markets."  "The right markets"?  Guess.  The US and Europe, of course. Wrong. India and China. Those, it was explained, were "the right markets" because the oil market was stagnating in the US and Europe and actively growing in India and China.  Hardly, it would seem, something for the US to go to war for. But, then, Wall Street is the government.

We went to war against the Taliban in 2001 shortly after the US officials who negotiated with the Taliban for permission to let the pipeline be built told them, according to two well-respected French journalists, "You can have a carpet of gold [if you allow the pipeline] or a carpet of bombs [if you don't]."  Really? Yes. That's a 13-year-old story. The Taliban, as the well-documented story goes, chose the "carpet of bombs," we won the military war and our chosen successor to the Taliban, Hamid Karzai, promptly started to negotiate to get oil and natural gas to "the right markets."  

On Friday, Jamaican Minister of Justice Mark Golding released a statement announcing government support for a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the decriminalization of marijuana use for religious, scientific and medical purposes.

"The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities and smoking, while still meeting the ends of justice,” Minister Golding said. “The proposed changes represent an approach which will ensure to the benefit of the persons concerned and the society as a whole, and reduce the burdens on the court system.”

On June 11, 2014 Pictou Landing First Nation (Mi'kmaw) erected a blockade over an effluent spill at the Northern Pulp Mill.  Idle No More and Defenders of the Land urge all people to support Pictou Landing First Nation in defense of one of their ancient burial grounds as well as their fisheries both of which have been threatened by this massive spill.

Read the following alert from Pictou Landing and check out the links below to learn more about the blockade and the effluent spill. 

Dear Friends,

Scandal at the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) has reached horrendous proportions and we need your help now to end discrimination against survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Earlier this week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report confirming what we've been saying for years - that the VA continues to struggle in adjudicating Military Sexual Trauma (MST) claims accurately and fairly. Here's what the GAO confirmed:

PHOENIX and TUCSON - Earlier this week, 150 men detained at the Pinal County Jail (PCJ) in Florence, Arizona signed and released a letter documenting the facility’s deplorable conditions and calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end its detention contract with the jail. Approximately 70 men at the jail also began a hunger strike to protest the conditions at the jail. As of Wednesday, June 11, the men suspended their hunger strike, as ICE has committed to review their demands.

See the letter from the men detained at PCJ.

“…the Gates Foundation agrees with those who’ve decided that assessment results should not be taken into account in high-stakes decisions on teacher evaluation or student promotion for the next two years, during this transition.”

Vicki Phillips, director of the U.S. education program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

How do you know the United States is currently experiencing the largest revolt against high-stakes standardized testing in history?


Jun 16

Repugnant Republicans - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Part I - Something Disturbing

There is something disturbing about the Republican response to just about everything President Obama does. It has a knee-jerk yet patterned nature.  It displays a meanness that is acted out with a certain gloating quality as well. Take for instance Republican Representative Joe Wilson shouting “You Lie!” during Obama’s speech to Congress on health care. Wilson’s anger was displayed with the malicious satisfaction of a nasty child. Subsequently, Republican politicians have called President Obama a “tar baby,” a socialist, lazy, Hitler, and perhaps most tellingly, un-American. None these epithets are accurate, yet apparently they are believed to be true not only by the persons who said them, but many others among the Republican base. 

What is the reason for this?


Washington, DC - Today, working mothers employed by food service and cleaning contractors  at federal buildings declared that the President’s $10.10 Executive Order isn’t enough to support their families.  The workers called on President Obama to use his executive powers to give them collective bargaining rights so they don’t have to keep striking to win living wages, health care benefits, paid time off and the other things they need to care for their kids.

“I’m grateful to the President for raising my wage to ten dollars an hour, but it’s not enough to care for my son,” says Rodelma Acosta, a McDonald’s worker at the Pentagon.  “As a single mom, I still have to rely on food stamps and Medicaid because there’s nothing left after paying the rent.  Most of my coworkers are like me – we’re single moms and barely making it.  We need more than the minimum wage, we need a union to win the living wages and benefits necessary to take care of our families and give our kids a chance to succeed in the world.”

Not only has healthcare for too long been at the service of the politically elite and wealthy in the United States, but it – along with medicines – have yet to be realized as rights for all citizens.

Now that the spotlight is again on a healthcare system that has even failed its veterans—widespread scheduling abuses, data falsification, long waiting times at hospitals and lengthy delays leading to dozens of deaths, the same abuses which permeate public and private healthcare institutions—perhaps Americans will work to include healthcare as a social and economic right.

Jun 16

Haiti Cholera Victims Rejoice: We Have a Committee!

By Johan Schnee, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Port-de-Paix, Haiti, June 3, 2014: Cholera victims and their relatives reacted with boundless rejoicing throughout Haiti to last week's announcement by the United Nations of the First Meeting of the High-Level Committee for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti.

Jocelyne Augustin, 36, paused briefly as she pranced through the streets of Port-de-Paix, a wide smile across her face. Augustin lost her husband and two children to the cholera epidemic, introduced to Haiti in 2010 from a UN military base that deposited its human wastes into Haiti's Meille River. "We have been through a lot, that's true, but it all seems worth it now. We have a Committee!"

Her son Sadrac, 10, one of Augustin's three surviving children, all unable to attend school in three years because of funeral expenses and the loss of their father's income, added "not just a Committee, a High-Level Committee!"